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Adding Compressor Into The Chain

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Adding Compressor Into The Chain

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 6:17 am
by JRocker
I want to do the following. I currently record vocals (or acoustic guitar) from mic into my interface. Inside my Cubase I will then use EQ or compression depending on whats required.

Can I instead, place a compressor in-between the mic and interface, so that that I can have the compressor on during recording?

I currently use AT2020 mic and a SM57 that goes into a ESU1808. The compressor I have is a Behringer Auto Com Pro, which to my knowledge is a mono unit. But since I record vocals and guitar as mono track, this unit is not an issue.

Re: Adding Compressor Into The Chain

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 7:29 am
by Arpangel
I take it it’s a Behringer MDX1600? that’s a stereo unit.
Its usual to put a compressor after the mic-pre, if you have one? and then into the interface, the Autocom is a line level unit, so wouldn’t be suitable for a mic signal.
If you have no separate mic-pre, then use the mic inputs on the interface and route them out to the compressor, and then back into the interface, this should be possible inside Cubase.
TBQH, it’s a lot easier just to use a plug-in, unless you’ve got some exotic boutique hardware compressor it’s really not worth it IMO. Although a compressor could help if peaks are an issue, clipping the input on your interface, but best to keep levels down and record at something like 24/96.

Re: Adding Compressor Into The Chain

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 8:35 am
by The Elf
Unless you have a compressor that does something truly fabulous then there really is little to be gained. I wouldn't count that compresor as something that demands to be used.

Record at 24 bit (no need to go to 96kHz, though) and allow lots of headroom. Save the compression for inside the DAW, where you have luxury of hindsight.

Re: Adding Compressor Into The Chain

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 8:48 am
by forumuser852488
I used to always try to record with a little bit of compression.

Ironically it wasn't until I started using Apollo interfaces that I found out that doing this isn't really necessary to get professional sounding vocals. It does help in getting your vocal tracks to sound more polished on the way in (which can be more inspiring and potentially saving time in mixdown), but so does using a VST compressor (with zero or minimal latency) while recording with input monitoring. You can do this too while still recording dry unprocessed signal which would give you the ability to modify your compression settings later if you feel you didn't set it up correctly on the way in.

To effectively do this you would either need an external mic pre (and a compressor). Or use an interface that has inserts after the preamp (I believe some higher end interfaces have these inserts).

If you really desire this a Channel strip might be a more cost effective way to do this as they will have a preamp, eq, and compressor all in one unit, than buying the individual components.

Re: Adding Compressor Into The Chain

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 11:18 pm
by JRocker
>I take it it’s a Behringer MDX1600? <

No, it's a MDX1400

A little confused here, so pardon my ignorance, but all this talk of mic-pre, isn't the interface a mic-pre in itself?

Re: Adding Compressor Into The Chain

PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2020 11:37 pm
by MOF
A little confused here, so pardon my ignorance, but all this talk of mic-pre, isn't the interface a mic-pre in itself?
Not all interfaces are integrated, some are just line level convertors.
Most single and twin channel interfaces are mic’ preamp(s), convertors A to D and D to A and headphone amplifier(s) with a monitor level controller.

Re: Adding Compressor Into The Chain

PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 7:37 am
by JRocker
Thanks for your clairification MOF, I did not know this.

So is my ESU1808 a pre-mic or just a line level converter?

Re: Adding Compressor Into The Chain

PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 8:30 am
by Arpangel
JRocker wrote:Thanks for your clairification MOF, I did not know this.

So is my ESU1808 a pre-mic or just a line level converter?

I’ve looked at your interface, it has two mic preamplifiers built in, so, as MOF mentioned, you have an integrated preamp/interface! :)
I don’t know your particular unit, but I’d be inclined to use a dedicated stand-alone mic preamplifier, which will have a line level output that you can then plug into the inputs on your interface. These tend to be better than built in mic amps, if you get a good one, and have more facilities. High gain, low noise floor, phase reversal, MS decoding, enable you to use a wide range of microphones and stereo set-ups.

Re: Adding Compressor Into The Chain

PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 9:10 am
by Mike Stranks
Arpangel wrote:I don’t know your particular unit, but I’d be inclined to use a dedicated stand-alone mic preamplifier, which will have a line level output that you can then plug into the inputs on your interface. These tend to be better than built in mic amps, if you get a good one, and have more facilities. High gain, low noise floor, phase reversal, MS decoding, enable you to use a wide range of microphones and stereo set-ups.

I disagree.

These days, most interfaces in the £100 region (eg Focusrite 'Scarlett') have very good mic preamps and there is absolutely no need to be buying separate mic pres if your interface already has them.

For the majority of amateur users the mic pre is very unlikely to be the weakest link in the reproduction chain.

Re: Adding Compressor Into The Chain

PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 9:18 am
by Arpangel
Mike Stranks wrote:
Arpangel wrote:I don’t know your particular unit, but I’d be inclined to use a dedicated stand-alone mic preamplifier, which will have a line level output that you can then plug into the inputs on your interface. These tend to be better than built in mic amps, if you get a good one, and have more facilities. High gain, low noise floor, phase reversal, MS decoding, enable you to use a wide range of microphones and stereo set-ups.

I disagree.

These days, most interfaces in the £100 region (eg Focusrite 'Scarlett') have excellent mic preamps and there is absolutely no need to be buying separate mic pres if your interface already has them.

For the majority of amateur users the mic pre is very unlikely to be the weakest link in the reproduction chain.

I was thinking about the OP's desire to put a hardware compressor in there, as well, that would be possible with an external pre, or a bit easier. Also, I haven’t come across any interface mic amp that’s had decent gain, for dynamics and ribbons, it’s always "turn it up to 11"
Depends on what you want really, budget interfaces are only going to have possibly two inputs, which may be a bit limiting.
I've never used built in mic pre's, they always sound a bit od to me, compared to a decent preamp.

Re: Adding Compressor Into The Chain

PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 12:36 pm
by Hugh Robjohns
JRocker wrote:A little confused here, so pardon my ignorance, but all this talk of mic-pre, isn't the interface a mic-pre in itself?

Yes, the interface has mic preamps in it.

And the purpose of the mic preamp is to raise the very small output signal from a mic to a line level suitable for the converters within the interface (or for other processing in a more general context).

The problem you have is that although you wish to place the compressor between the mic and interface, the compressor requires a line level input signal, not a mic level signal.

So you will need a mic preamp between the mic and compressor, too.

Unfortunately, you can't access the individual mic preamps in your interface as separate entities to perform this task, so you'll need a separate standalone preamp.

Some interfaces have an insert point that does allow external hardware, like your compressor, to be connected between the interface's preamp and converter.... But sadly your esu1808 doesn't have insert points.

So your only way forward is to acquire a standalone mic preamp, and then wire the system so you mic feeds the new preamp, which feeds line level into the compressor, and the output of the compressor then feeds line level into the interface.

Personally, though... I'm with the Elf. Record the straight mic output and then process that signal with your desired amount of compression either in the DAW or by using your hardware compressor hooked up between the interface's inputs and outputs as an external,effects loop.

Re: Adding Compressor Into The Chain

PostPosted: Sun May 31, 2020 3:08 pm
by Mike Stranks
:oops: Now that I read it again, my previous post was over-brief and incomplete - and unfairly questioned Arp's comments. :oops:

Note to self: Take own advice; think before ink.

IF the compressor has to be included in the signal chain then Arp/Tony (and subsequently Hugh) are, of course, correct.

My comment related solely to the quality of onboard mic pres in decent budget audio interfaces.

On the topic of mic pres... anyone looking for a budget one really ought to consider one of these - budget money, but not budget spec:

https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=64636

Also comes in single-channel. There was one going very cheap on EBay a couple of weeks ago...

Edit:

[Sigh...] I'm not doing too well here am I?

The preamp I've mentioned doesn't have enough phantom-power for an AT2020... so while a good preamp, no good for the O/P's requirements... [Sigh...]

Re: Adding Compressor Into The Chain

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 7:52 am
by Arpangel
It’s OK Mike, I was a bit hasty in trashing all built in mic-pre's, some are probably very good, there isn’t a reason for them not to be these days.
I’ve had a few interfaces, and tried out the mic inputs, but I’ve never wanted to use them again for various reasons.
I’m a bit spoilt, and it’s an unfair comparison, but it’s the standard I go by, I have one of the late Mike Skeet's home built 4 channel mic-preamps, fantastic thing, around 80dB of gain, almost noiseless at normal operating levels, phase reversal, built in MS decoding, phase and stereo field meter, plus 4 headphone and two stereo line outputs. The sound is extremely transparent, and clean. That’s the reason I tend not to use my interface, unless I run out of inputs!